Great power policy Putin is urging NATO to stop expanding east, the demand is neither new nor realistic

“This is a kind of game opening, even though the game has been going on for a long time,” says Jyri Lavikainen, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

Russian president Vladimir Putin demanded on Wednesday In his speech to the Kremlin, the military alliance from NATO “made concrete agreements” that the alliance would not expand eastward. Underlying the claim is the situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border. Both Russia and NATO have accused each other of pushing closer to the border.

If implemented, Putin’s demand would exclude Finland from the so-called NATO option, ie the possibility of joining the military alliance. President Sauli Niinistö stated on Thursday to STTthat the decision on NATO membership is a matter between the applicant country and the NATO member countries.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba also reassured Putin’s speeches at a NATO meeting in Riga on Wednesday, the AFP news agency reported.

“Russia cannot prevent Ukraine from approaching NATO, and it has no influence in the relevant discussions,” Kuleba said.

Foreign policy Institute of Russian Foreign and Security Policy Jyri Lavikainen notes to HS that Putin ‘s proposal is unrealistic.

“It’s clear that [ehdotus] knocked out directly in the West. ”

According to Lavikainen, Russia is trying to create a security threat through military action on the Ukrainian border, which it can then offer to solve itself.

“They are working to create a military threat so that we in Europe find the security situation so problematic that we are prepared to agree with Russia in a way that satisfies Russia’s goals. In return, Russia would give up the pressure.”

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According to Lavikainen, it is surprising that Putin made his proposal so early. It could have had more weight if Russia had taken the concentration of forces on the Ukrainian border much further.

According to Lavikainen, it is likely that Putin is aware of the impossibility of his claim. Lavikainen estimates that Russia has now submitted its demand to bring it up for public debate and will start stepping up the demand later under pressure.

In Founded in 1949, NATO has 30 member countries. Most recently joined the military alliance Northern Macedonia in March 2020.

The largest enlargement of the 21st century took place in 2004, with the accession of a large number of former members of the Warsaw Pact: the Baltic States, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia. Slovenia also joined the military alliance in the same year.

Preventing NATO enlargement and securing its own external borders through non-aligned buffer zones has been one of the main goals of Russia’s security policy for decades, says Lavikainen.

“They opposed as early as the 1990s [Naton laajentumista], but then they could do nothing to prevent it. It is a constant problem for them in the direction of the West. ”

After the end of World War II, the Soviet Union created a buffer zone for itself, and Russia is still looking for one. Russia wants no weapons systems or alliances near its borders that it interprets as a threat to its own security.

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According to Lavikainen, NATO’s bombing campaign in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war in 1999 is still reflected in Russia’s military threats.

“The Western trend lost all its place in Russian domestic politics after the 1999 campaign at the latest. The campaign defeated the armed forces of Yugoslavia, present-day Serbia, with clean-cut precision weapons without even deploying ground troops. Russia started the second war in Chechnya in the same year, and they were scared then that ‘if this is done for us too,’ “says Lavikainen.

Bridge At present, Russia’s main concern is Ukraine. It would also oppose a similar development in Belarus, Lavikainen said.

“Russia is opposed to bringing advanced weapons close to its borders, this is a message and a demand to reduce material aid to Ukraine.”

However, according to Lavikainen, the delivery of such weapons to Ukraine is not even planned. He says Russian experts have described that it is unacceptable for Russia to make Ukraine a massive, unsinked aircraft carrier so close to Moscow.

“The situation in the Russian media has been compared to the situation during the missile crisis in Cuba.”

According to Lavikainen, Russia is also concerned about the development of Ukraine’s armed forces and that Ukraine could be able to regain control of the areas under Russian control in eastern Ukraine.

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Ukraine there is one NATO identification Member States aspiring to join the Union, alongside Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Lavikainen does not believe that Putin’s demands will affect Ukraine’s membership aspirations. Under the union’s treaty, member states can unanimously invite any member of the European Union to join the military alliance.

“Ukraine’s official goal is to become a member of NATO. This is unlikely to affect Ukraine’s line or NATO’s attitude. ”

The most concrete According to Lavikainen, the short-term effect of Putin’s demand is that Russia’s goals are now openly public. Russia may also start to put more and more open pressure on Ukraine.

“It’s clearer they can’t say that. This is some kind of opening game, even though the game has been going on for a long time. Now we all know what Russia is demanding.”

The requirement has little effect on the situation in Finland, although Putin’s goal now is to keep Finland and Sweden non-aligned, Lavikainen estimates. It is worthwhile for Finns to aspire to NATO National Defense Information Planning Board survey according to 24 percent and opposes 51 percent.

“Finland is not joining NATO any time soon, so this requirement is not blocking or accelerating anything. NATO co-operation will continue as before. ”

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